Amazon has made its first investment in a home construction company through its Alexa Fund. Plant Prefab, a California-based home-building startup, has raised US$6.7 billion in a Series A funding led by the Alexa Fund and Obvious Ventures.
The Alexa Fund had invested mostly in startups that develop software and hardware related to voice assistant Alexa. For example, Alexa-powered smart thermostat maker Ecobee and microphone technology startup Vesper are typical Alexa Fund receivers.
The new investment by Amazon signified that the company is entering the home building field, with the ambition to bring its voice assistant directly into newly built homes. Amazon made a deal with U.S.’ largest homebuilder Lennar in May, to pre-install Alexa in all new homes built by the company.
The startup Plant Prefab makes custom single and multi-family homes with sustainable and high-quality appeals. It also utilizes automated building processes, and claims to reduce construction time by 50% and cost by 10% to 25% in major cities.
“Plant Prefab is a leader in home design and emerging, innovative player in home manufacturing. We’re thrilled to support them as they make sustainable, connected homes more accessible to customer and developers,” says Paul Bernard, director of the Alexa Fund, in a statement.
The startup focuses on the fast-growing urban home market, where more population are moving to, causing less living space and higher rental fees. However, city governments want to build new homes at lower costs and with less time while maintaining housing quality. The startup believes its prefabricated home factory, automated building process and sustainable design and constructions will meet the demands.
Plant Prefab is a spinoff of LingingHomes, a home design and development company that made the first LEED Platinum home in the U.S. So far Plant Prefab has installed 26 units in California and Utah as well as a multifamily project in Berkeley. New houses built by the company could come with the whole Alexa experience.